Press Briefing: Common language for the EU, Populists in Europe & Eurasian century

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German AfD candidate: ‘The EU is upside down’ (EurActiv, 25th May ’14)

Germany’s leading eurosceptic party, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), received 7 percent of the vote in their country and will be sending 7 MEPs to the European Parliament. While AfD opposes the euro currency and would like that Germany reintroduces Deutsche Mark, it has been claiming that it does not oppose the European Union as such.

An interesting sneak peak of the party’s political positions towards Europe comes in this interview with Beatrix von Storch, who was fourth on the candidate list for AfD and who is thus becoming an MEP. Von Storch gives her support to several measures that would certainly please many in the federal camp, notably cutting the number of European Commissioners to half and introducing one EU administration language. It is this latter point that should attract the attention of our readers, as according to von Storch this common language should not be English, but Latin. Countering EurActiv’s objections that English would be preferable, von Storch answers:

With the consequence that even more translators must be hired.

Right. That is why the EU does not function as a democracy in its current form. Democracy requires that we be able to discuss with one another in a cohesive public setting. That is not possible with the multiplicity of languages we have. That is a big problem which can only be solved if we agree on a common language.

That would probably be English.

Or Latin.

Latin?

Why not? Then it would be just as difficult for everyone and no one would have the advantage of being able to dominate every discussion. But this can be discussed for a long time – the fact remains that a common state with 24 languages does not work. Three languages, like in Switzerland, still just barely function well. Above all, when a state is organised in a relatively decentralised fashion. In that case, most discussions take place at a local and regional level – and the decisions are also made there.

Even if all EU documents and speeches were translated into English, the problem would remain that a majority of the population in the EU and in Germany does not speak adequate English.

Is it not enough that those directly involved can speak with one another?

Democracy is not about employees in the institutions being able to communicate with each other. The citizens must be able to join the discussion. In the EU’s case, these discussions would have to take place in 24 languages.

Even if all the documents were available in German, hardly anyone who is not actively working on the relevant issue would read them.

Not all 80 million people in Germany must be involved in everything. But the people must still have the opportunity to follow the debates and read the legislative drafts. One cannot simply give them the final result in their own language, after the legislation was negotiated in a different language. That is too thin for a democracy. A lively, direct exchange is essential.

In our magazine we previously published our own piece pointing out the benefits of Latin as the language of Europe’s culture and civilisation. This is a rare and welcome support to the idea of one common language that would not be English, although the prospective MEP does not mention cultural reasons for her party’s support. It cannot be but agreed that democracy requires a dialogue lead in one tongue and that such language is preferable if it does not make national preferences.

On the other hand, AfD also believes that one of the solutions to the EU’s problems lies in granting member states veto over a vast majority of the EU legislation. While the powers exercised at the European level should be certainly reviewed both (as the EU lacks such crucial competences for regaining our continent’s sovereignty as in foreign, defence and fiscal affairs), country veto would certainly to even more paralysis rather than to increased decision-making capabilities.

Overall, this is an interview to be thought about and worth reading in full.

 

As always, an excellent column from Alain de Benoist. The victory of Front National and other populist parties in the EU is the result of the complete detachment of the European political class and elites from people.

Politicians repeating the hollow creda of liberalism that they no longer even believe themselves, pliable media whose only skill is presenting the same rubbish on a golden platter, and haughty moralism and diabolisation of opponents instead of political arguments and offering of a real alternative to ultraliberalism… and there you have a clear explanation of why 43% of workers in France voted for Front National.

 

The Birth of a Eurasian Century (Counter Punch, 30th May ’14)

The author of this piece foresees that the 21st century will belong to Eurasia. Indeed from the developments of the last few weeks it seems inevitably – Russia just concluded a large gas deal with China, following on the 270 USD billion oil deal between Rosneft and China’s CNPC last year. Subsequently, Russia’s Vladimir Putin scored another victory with organising the St Petersburg International Economic Forum as an answer to Davos. Pepe Escobar elaborates:

On the first day at the St Petersburg forum I attended this crucial session on Russia-China strategic economic partnership. Pay close attention: the roadmap is all there. As Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao describes it: ”We plan to combine the program for the development of Russia’s Far East and the strategy for the development of Northeast China into an integrated concept.”

But as Escobar notes, then there is more: notably a project for the Chinese new silk road. According to the Chinese plans, trade and commerce should bound together China with Russia and Germany. In the same package, China also proposes a Free Trade Area to  the Asia-Pacific region and for Europe the extension of the railway that would link Chengdu in China to Lodz in Poland, crossing Kazakhstan, Russia and  thenBelarus with the final stop in Duisburg, Germany.

We are not over yet, however. Chinese President Xi Jingping also called for nothing less than a new Asian security system that would be excluding the US – with Iraqi PM, Iran’s and Afghanistan’s Presidents present during the announcement of these plans in Shaghai:

The facts on the ground speak for themselves. China is buying at least half of Iraq’s oil production – and is investing heavily in its energy infrastructure. China has invested heavily in Afghanistan’s mining industry – especially lithium and cobalt. And obviously both China and Russia keep doing business in Iran.

So this is what Washington gets for over a decade of wars, incessant bullying, nasty sanctions and trillions of misspent dollars.

All this entails that the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) increasingly looks like a project rivaling NATO. Perhaps a first step in this line is China’s confirmation of several projects that will finance the development in Crimea – a new bridge across the Kerch Strait, expansion of Crimean ports, solar power plants and more. This should not be misinterpreted in any other way than that China is standing on the Russian side in the Ukrainian conflict – and recognising Russia’s control over the peninsula.

Beyond what Pepe Escobar writes in his article, we should ask ourselves where does Europe and the EU stand in all this. When the world is realigning itself along multiple poles of power, can the Europeans reassert their sovereignty or will they continue being pawns on the chessboard of somebody else?

In addition to being a writer and founder of The European Strategist, during daytime I am an EU and government affairs expert (also know by a more infamous word “lobbyist”) in the automotive industry in Brussels. I see myself as an adventurer in life or on a racing bike, holding a philosophy book in one hand, and always fighting for something with the other one. What I’m enchanted by? By life as a miracle and endless series of contradictions.

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